Sunday, March 11, 2012

Anger Management

I had a “fit” the other day. That’s what we call them in Texas; when a person gets really pissed off. I didn’t just have “a fit”. I had a “cussin’ fit”. A “cussin’ fit” is about three-quarters of the way up the “fit” severity rating scale for me. Men and women have different “fit” severity levels down here. For example you won’t find “hissy” or “bitch” fit ratings on the men’s scale. (Point of clarification: that would be the straight men’s scale.) A “cussin’ fit” is worse than a ‘foot-stompin’ or ‘door-slammin’ fit. Not quite as bad as a “burn-rubber-throwin’-gravel-shoot-‘em-the-finger-drive-away” fit. And not nearly as bad as a “fist-through-the-wall, throwin’ whatever you are big enough to throw” fit. No need to go into the reason for my cussin’ fit. Suffice it to say that I was really irritated. As I grow older, thankfully, it takes longer for something to bother me. But rub me in the wrong place long enough, then rub it again at the wrong time and I go off. Once that first f-bomb comes out of my mouth, the rest of the cuss words just start flying.

My cussin’ fits have a sort of symphonic quality to them. There is the opening, the allegro. In my case, one might call it an allegro agitato and it often begins with a question such as “what the f--- ?” Then there is the second movement, the adagio, where I slow it down and try to restrain my self while muttering long-drawn out calls of the good Lord’s name including a middle initial on occasion. Then there is the third movement. Now the curse words fill the air…verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs…come one come all…be creative. The same root curse word can be used over and over as long as one keeps interchanging the use of ‘ing’, ‘er’ and ‘ed’ at the end of the word. Usually I end the third movement abruptly and there is a long silence. Then the fourth and final movement begins quietly with an expression of disappointment and desperation, building ever more loudly and rapidly to the main theme, closing with a crescendo of expletives comparable to a Fourth of July fireworks display.

The duration of this symphony usually depends on what the other person has to say. Back in my youth I rarely got past the first movement without moving on to punching or throwing something or someone. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I tend to patiently wait for my audience to shut up and return to their seats. Then I pick it right back up without missing a beat. I can be world-class cusser with great rhythm and timing when I put my mind to it.

But after the fit, I feel like s—t. I know that my explosion has hurt the other person and it’s hurt me. Whatever I have ever said or done in the past to express my faith and core beliefs has just been wiped out. I am now “that guy”…the big hypocrite who preaches doing the right thing and taking the “high road”. But, in the heat of the moment, I say all the wrong things and to hell with the high road. It’s not about being angry. It’s about how one manages that anger. And even now, this late in life, I still struggle with it. More often than not, I win. But, this week I lost and that just makes me sad.

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